Ukraine: 'Now is the time for Germany to act' says Melnyk
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The EU has been scrambling to end its reliance on Russia’s energy imports amid the war with Ukraine. With a staggering 40 percent of the bloc’s gas supplies coming from Russia, it explains why the EU had been more hesitant than its Western counterparts to sanction Putin’s energy empire. But the EU’s new energy strategy, REPowerEU, does detail a master plan to cut Russian oil and gas imports by two thirds, and completely scupper ties altogether in 2027.
Germany, which is one of the most dependent out of the entire bloc (40 percent of Germany’s gas comes from Russia) at first pushed back against Russian sanctions.
Now, the country has changed its tone.
On Wednesday, Germany triggered an “early warning phase” of an existing gas emergency plan designed to help it cope with a supply cut from Russia.
This means a crisis team from both the public and private sector could be on hand to monitor imports and storage.
Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck said: “We must increase precautionary measures to be prepared for an escalation on the part of Russia.
“With the declaration of the early warning level, a crisis team has convened.”
He added that supplies were being safeguarded, but warned that “every kilowatt hour counts” in a plea to consumers and companies to limit consumption.
Mr Habeck has also said that Germany can cut its imports of Russian oil in half by midsummer.
He has also said the country could almost entirely put an end to the imports by end of the year, and claimed coal could be halved in “the coming weeks”.
Mr Habeck claimed Germany could completely phase out Russian gas by the middle of 2024.
But critics say this target is not good enough.
Mark Lynas, an advisor to Moldovan President MohamedNasheed, said: “Germany says the earliest it can get off Russian oil and gas is 2025. The EU says 2027.
“This is not true. They could stop buying Putin’s dirty fossil fuels immediately if they wanted to truly support the people of Ukraine.”
Mr Lynas also took a dig at the entire bloc.
He continued: “It is morally obscene that Europe sends billions to help finance Putin’s war on the innocent people of Ukraine.
“Since the invasion began on 24 February, Europe has sent 22 billion euros to the Kremlin.”
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Mr Lynas’s new report, “Switch off Putin: A Ukrainian Energy Solidarity Plan”, claims it is completely feasible to embargo Russian oil, gas and coal.
He said: “As President Zelensky has repeatedly pointed out, it is unthinkable that Europe should be pouring billions into Putin’s war machine while Ukrainians are dying under a rain of missiles and bombs.
“This report demonstrates that ending European imports of Russian fossil fuels is possible right now. Obfuscation and delays from European leaders – particularly in Germany – must stop.”
Rauli Partanen, a co-author of the report, said: “Enforcing energy rationing, suspending domestic flights and reversing our nuclear shutdown are just some of the ambitious but entirely possible measures that could help us answer President Zelensky’s call.
“We need new levels of political ambition and deep cooperation within EU members to immediately embargo Russian oil, gas and coal, but we can do it.”
The report appears to disagree with Ursula von der Leyen’s current plan for the EU and might not be promising for Germany to hear either.
Particularly after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on “Anne Will” on Sunday that if Russia’s gas was cut overnight, ”entire branches of industry would have to stop working”, triggering a “considerable economic crisis”.
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